By Kathleen Gilbert
MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin, March 10, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki said Tuesday that, while he would not “embrace” an opportunity to deny communion to a Catholic lawmaker who votes contrary to Church teaching, a situation that caused grave scandal to the Catholic community had the potential to “force his hand” in the matter.
When asked by a reporter whether he would “[fore]see ever denying communion to any local Catholic lawmakers who vote contrary to Catholic beliefs,” Listecki, who was fielding questions at a Milwaukee Press Club “Newsmaker Luncheon” Tuesday, emphasized the delicacy of each situation and his pastoral commitment.
“Each of those situations … has to be considered on an individual basis,” said Listecki in an audio recording published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “From my perspective, the cure, if you want, of somebody who is either purporting something which is erroneous to the Church's teaching, is the Eucharist itself. So basically, if I cut somebody off from that, I'm cutting them off, potentially, from that which would help to establish a reformulation of their thinking.”
However, the archbishop said, “I can't tell you I would not envision something, because then I would tie either my hands or other bishops' hands to that statement.”
Listecki emphasized the need “to consider what is the impact of whatever that person is doing, and whether or not you've dialogued with them, whether you've gone forward to try … to help them come to an understanding of the teaching, what is causing them to either reject that teaching.” “There's a need for the bishop to not only be teacher but be pastor, and in that sense to come to know the heart of the individual,” he said.
“I can't tell you there wouldn't be somebody who would be so obstinate in terms of … not caring about the slander that they would give to Catholics in the community, that would basically force my hand … to do that,” the archbishop concluded, adding that scenario would not be “something which I would embrace.”
Another reporter asked whether Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett, a pro-abortion Catholic, would be “slandering the Church” if he did not change his position on abortion after dialoguing with the archbishop. Listecki disagreed, saying that “there are all sorts of aspects to what it means to be pro-choice, and what that person understands and how they go forward.”
“It's very difficult for me to see how somebody can be pro-choice knowing the teachings of the Church. But individuals may be pro-choice and looking to limit abortions,” he said.